Three women performing a Japanese dance

Japanese dance inclusion

Whether it be for performance and pleasure, or for ritual and ceremony, Japanese dance has always been an important part of the country’s culture and identity. This week, after meeting in Morocco, the group UNESCO has announced that a number of traditional Japanese dances will be entered into the category of ‘intangible cultural heritage’. 

A total of 41 furyū Odori Japanese dances that hail from 24 of Japan’s prefectures are to be included in the groups intangible cultural status. It’s a move that will cement their status as an important cultural property but also highlight their significance internationally.

The term furyū Odori is the name given to traditional ritual dance, and includes dances such as the famous Bon Odori which have been passed down and performed for many generations — one of the reasons why they have been given the status. Other Japanese dances include Gujo Odori and Ayako Odori among others.

Another cited reason for their importance is the idea that many of the dances have an impact on society. Their ability to bring people together and act as a form of reassurance and comfort in the wake of natural disasters is something to celebrate. 

It follows the inclusion of other forms of Japanese dance such as those found in Kabuki and Noh performances in earlier meetings of the UNESCO panel from previous years.